written by Mark Veldhoff posted on Oct 12, 2020
Kids Hope USA is a faith-based mentoring organization, providing services in 37 states and helping over a thousand public schools. The organization partners with churches to build life-changing relationships through their concept of the power of one. Kids Hope USA connects a church mentor with a school to offer one-hour mentoring sessions, once per week with a student who needs help.
For 25 years, the organization has helped children from broken homes. They might have lost one or both of their parents. The student could have a learning disability, or maybe they’re just socially awkward. There are so many situations that impact why a child is not doing well at school.
When Kids Hope USA decided to seek managed IT services in West Michigan, the goal was to grow the organization and execute its mission more effectively. Beth Wassink explains how Kids Hope USA partnered with Envision IT to reimagine its goals using managed IT services.
How Did Managed IT Services In West Michigan Help Grow Kids Hope USA?
Wassink explains that Kids Hope USA promotes one-on-one mentoring that communicates that “you matter” to the child. The organization’s program focuses on the needs of one child and offers mentoring with a caring adult.
After partnering with the Carl Frost Center for Social Science Research at Hope College to develop a Kids Hope Mentor Model, the number of students reading at grade level nearly doubled, and grade level scores and math doubled as well.
Managed IT services in West Michigan helped design a turnkey structure that’s doesn’t tax the time of the church staff or the school staff. The professionals at Envision IT worked with Kid’s Hope USA to:
- Streamline mentor application screening
- Provide a four-week hosted online Director training
- Offer mentor training through a protected portal.
- Manage cloud-based resources
- Produce webinars
The school provides the mentoring space, refers students, and collects permission from a parent or guardian.
Wassink says that ninety-one percent of Kids Hope USA mentor-student matches last two years or longer. That’s a significant increase compared to the five months that most school-based mentoring organizations achieve. Additionally, ninety percent of church partners end up serving their school’s students and their families well beyond the mentoring program.
How Does Managed IT Support Regional Offices?
Kids Hope USA has regional teams across the country. The goal is to provide local support for mentors, teachers, counselors, and other community members with mentoring curriculum resources, ideas, and suggestions. What’s more, the regional offices are one-person regional representatives who work from home.
Wassink points out that with only six employees in the main office and the rest of them located throughout the United States, web-based services and cloud data storage made sense.
The organization had moved some data online to the cloud then realized that they needed managed IT services in West Michigan to create a custom portal. There needed to be an easily accessible place to host training programs, reporting for program partner and donor management, and resources database storage, to name a few.
Envizion IT collaborated with Kids Hope USA to implement the technology infrastructure’s day-to-day management with:
- Hardware and Software Setup
- Network infrastructure management
- Microsoft Office 365 communication and collaboration suite
- Anti-malware and firewall
- Managed IT help desk
They also needed to manage how team members access the network and provide network speeds that ensure reliable communication, among other things.
How Can Managed IT Services Reimagine Your Network?
Before working with Envision IT, Wassink says that for the most part, Kids Hope USA hosted everything at the organization’s headquarters through a Dell Poweredge server with the domain controller, print server, file server, QuickBooks, and company email exchange server. It had a battery backup and a watch guard router with the Netgear 48 port switch.
Initially, the organization asked its managed service provider (MSP) to add two wireless access points in the office. However, with people outside of the office, a slow VPN connection frustrated anyone accessing data on the file server. The result was team members saving everything to their local devices, which created a disconnect in updated resources.
At the time, 70 percent of the organization was off-site and needed to align with its managed IT services. Additionally, Kids Hope USA wanted to implement a voice over IP solution (VoIP) to streamline call transfer and have an automated system. Unfortunately, the organization’s previous MSP didn’t take the time to understand the big picture.
Working With an MSP That Understands the Big Picture
Wassink says that working with an MSP that understands new and emerging technology and helps identify opportunities is essential. Partnering with Envision IT changed everything about how Kids Hope USA managed its network.
They realized that they needed to move everything to the cloud and no longer rely on a single network. Also, because employees and partners aren’t techs, they needed a simple mobile solution that provides flexibility.
Migrating email to office 365 resolved many of the connectivity issues and made it easier to set up and use on any device. The next step was to move data from the file server to SharePoint to keep all critical documents in a central location. They also implemented a more reliable and cost-effective VoIP solution.
Additionally, they started:
- Documenting and standardizing processes
- Mapping the value stream
- Streamlined onboarding and off-boarding employees
- Standardized paperwork and systems
- Saved money
As Wassink points out, managed IT services in West Michigan should help an organization transition to cloud services. With a strategic IT plan, an organization has an easier time creating a technology investment roadmap to guide its strategy and grow the team and organizational processes.
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